Newly elected Norridgewock selectwoman can’t serve until she fixes tax problem

Posted March 09, 2012, at 6:28 p.m.
Last modified March 10, 2012, at 9:11 a.m.

NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — A newly elected selectman has not yet been allowed to vote because of some unfinished business from when she was the town’s treasurer.

Charlotte Curtis, who was Norridgewock’s clerk and treasurer until she resigned after being elected as a selectman, has not been allowed to serve in her new capacity because of nearly $30,000 in uncollected sewer taxes.

“There’s a law on the books that talks about incompatible offices,” said Town Manager Michelle Flewelling on Friday. “Basically what that law states is that a tax collector or treasurer cannot serve as a selectman until they have completed their duties and have a settlement with the town.”

Because of the uncollected taxes that Curtis is responsible for, Flewelling said, Curtis’ job as treasurer wasn’t completed.

Flewelling said the selectmen are seeking the advice of a lawyer on what to do next.

Unpaid sewer bills go back as far as 2007, said Flewelling. She said she’s not sure why Curtis did not collect the sewer taxes or why she didn’t place liens on the properties for the unpaid taxes. Any unpaid bills more than a year old are ineligible for a lien to secure payment.

Curtis did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

According to a story in the Morning Sentinel, Curtis said at Wednesday’s selectmen’s meeting that she did not put liens on some accounts because she didn’t want people’s homes to be foreclosed upon because of a sewer bill.

Flewelling said neither she nor the Board of Selectmen can force a treasurer to collect taxes.

“Although we may ask that liens be placed, we cannot force her to place liens,” said Flewelling, adding that Curtis was the town’s treasurer for more than 20 years.

Selectman Sara Wilder said the uncollected tax money would be useful for the town.

“I hate to just shovel that away,” said Wilder.

Curtis, 66, was fired from an office clerk’s position at Norridgewock Town Hall last month for secretly making audio recordings in the building. Although she was fired from the office clerk position, she cannot be fired from the town clerk or treasurer jobs she also held because those were elected posts.

In her new position, she oversees the woman who fired her.

The town will move quickly to try to get the issue resolved as soon as possible, Flewelling said.

“The sooner it’s handled, the better off the community and Ms. Curtis are going to be,” said Flewelling. “We want this handled appropriately and within the law.”

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